17 December 2013 - A public interest litigation (PIL) Monday sought before the Bombay High Court that India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant be converted into a national museum instead of being sold as scrap metal. The PIL also sought quashing and setting aside of the tender issued by the Centre for scrapping the historical ship. The court has directed all the respondents to file a reply by January 8.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice M S Sanklecha was hearing the PIL filed by activist Kiran Paigankar as a convener of INS Vikrant Bachao Movement.
Advocate Shekhar Jagtap, appearing for the petitioner, informed the court that INS Vikrant played a vital role in protecting the sea borders of India during the war against Pakistan in 1971. The ship has received two Paramveer Chakras and several civilian awards, he told the court.
Citing the Antiquities And Art Treasures Act, 1972 Jagtap also pleaded that INS Vikrant could get the status of “antiquity” if preserved and not scrapped.
The PIL states that the Centre had issued a disposal policy for warships and submarines dated August 19, 2010, whereby the decommissioned ships and submarines could be disposed either by scrapping or by converting into a museum. Jagtap, therefore, pleaded before the court that the Centre, Indian Coast Guard and the Western Naval Command be directed to convert the legendary ship into a museum for training and recreational purposes.
The lawyer representing the Ministry of Defence informed the court that it had recently received a proposal submitted by Maharashtra Maritime Board for conversion of INS Vikrant into a museum, and the same was under consideration. The lawyer also said that a decision was likely by January 29.
The court directed all the respondents, including the Naval department, Urban Development Department and Department of Tourism and Culture to file their affidavits by January 8. The next date of hearing of the case is January 16.